(By Marilyn Rose and Salim Dawood)
FELIX Mutati has urged MMD members to realise that MMD is no longer in government where it was easier to find well-wishers to support the party hence the need for them to work without high expectations.
Addressing party officials in Chililabombwe on Friday, Mutati asked the members to pray for violent political parties ahead of the Bahati and Roan constituencies parliamentary by-elections.
“We are in opposition, we need to sacrifice and we should also be humble. We should realise that things are different from those days when we were in government. It is dry in the opposition, you also know that. So we want the spirit that we had, the spirit of volunteerism, the spirit of sacrificing for the party, MMD. If we work hard, it is only God who knows what the future holds but if we don’t work hard then the party suffers and we achieve nothing,” Mutati said.
“If we work hard to mobilise our party, no one will beat us. A lot of people doubt us and think that MMD is finished and we have experienced a lot of defections and where they have gone they have found a lot of problems and are being deserted. We are asking you not to leave the party because MMD was the first party and most of these parties have mushroomed from MMD. Even after losing the general elections we have learnt a lot of things because we have seen that it is difficult to win people’s confidence. As MMD, we need unity, discipline and hard work. But for the party to be successful we need to respect ourselves within the party and also recognise our protocol.”
Mutati said MMD members should not be worried about the misconceptions surrounding the party as a true MMD leader was chosen from the convention centre.
He said all current opposition parties mushroomed from MMD which gave the former ruling party more advantage to take over power in 2021, if they worked hard.
Mutati said MMD remained the country’s number one party even if it lost the 2011 general election to the Patriotic Front.
And the MMD faction leader asked members to spread a message of peace among political parties.
His comments come in the aftermath of political violence that characterised the by-election in Sesheke Constituency in February. The ruling PF lost the seat to UPND but has since petitioned the outcome citing violence.
Mutati said politicians should fight with ideas as opposed to political violence which was retrogressive to the development of the country.
“What we know as MMD is that leaders are chosen by people and not pangas. Do pangas choose leaders? Let people have a free will to choose their leaders. Don’t force leaders on people with pangas. So we want, in these by-elections which are coming in Bahati and Roan, people to choose their MPs freely. Let the people of Bahati and Roan choose a person they want,” he urged. “Don’t force them using pangas and other weapons. Let political parties emulate MMD in conducting peaceful campaigns. I was a campaign manager in Roan for a by-election and we did not have violence and people willfully chose their MP. We didn’t have violence but only debated on our policies as political parties. And you as members of the MMD, help your leaders to tell others that there is no development in punches. We are one people but you can’t say One Zambia, One Nation while wielding a panga, it is not ‘one Zambia, one panga’. So as you go to church this Sunday, pray for these parties who are violent.”
Mutati said political parties should not force citizens to vote for individuals they don’t want.
He said there was still hope for the MMD to bounce back to power if members combined discipline, hard work and sacrifice.
Mutati pledged to mobilise resources for smooth operations of the party while urging members to also sacrifice their time to ensure that they brought more members to the former ruling party.